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Has to be 5 stars...
on 17 August 2006
I'm not a western fan. I grew up watching a lot of them with my dad, but aside from the Gunfight at OK Corral, I never really got into them. So I wasn't sure about this, but I thought I'd have a look due to some very positive reviews.
Now this is going to sound a little bit weird, so I apologise... but I'm not sure if I'm glad that I did look. I've had to rate the series 5 stars because I sat glued to every episode in Season 1 and Season 2, so it's undeniably gripping television, very slickly directly, well scripted, and imaginatively filmed, but it's not a pleasant experience. There's nothing uplifting here. This is televisual nihilism. Dark, murky, filthy and frequently horrific. There are some much needed comic moments, due to a cast of very colourful characters, but the base tones here are black, brown and grey.
I have no problem at all with the frequent swearing. I didn't even notice it much, to be honest. Can't really understand why so many people get their knickers in a twist over it. More grisly murders than you can shake a stick at, and they get flustered over the F and C words. Crazy. I did feel a little bit uncomfortable with the feeling I got in a couple of episodes that some scenes of horror were veering very close to gratuitous wallowing, though. Shock for shock's sake. But this was not the norm- just a feeling I got in maybe 2 of the episodes. I'm not usually bothered by explicit material either, but again, an explicit blowjob while a character is giving a soliloquy can smack a little of... well, going out of your way to offend the easily offended. I do like the risk-taking element, though, and the bravery of the concept. Very original, and tastefully pulled off for the most part.
I've no doubt you'll be riveted by this series if you choose to give it a go, but if you're at all of a melancholic, depressive bent, I'm not sure if I should actively recommend it. It's very haunting, and very unsettling in parts. Thought-provoking, most definitely, but I don't think it's something I could watch again, or would want to watch more than once. Is it worth owning on dvd then? I'm not sure, considering you get no extras on the UK edition. I think that extras might have left me with a slightly sweeter taste in my mouth... helped me to appreciate the art behind the production, and sponge away a bit of the bleakness. As it was, I watched all the episodes, then felt that I needed a very long shower. With carbolic soap. And a little counselling. And a holiday. The craft here cannot really be faulted, but the content is very, very heavy. Approach with caution and handle with care.